Being physically active can help reduce the risk of getting heart
disease or can help reduce the affect of heart disease. Heart
disease is almost twice as likely to develop in inactive people.
If you have had a heart attack,
regular, physical activity can help reduce your risk of having another
heart attack. People who include regular physical activity in
their lives after a heart attack improve their chances of survival and
can improve how they feel and look.
If you have had a heart attack, consult
your doctor to be sure you are following a safe and effective exercise
program that will help prevent heart pain and further damage from
Physical Activity Facts
older adults donít get enough exercise.
Lack of exercise and poor diet, taken together, are the second
largest underlying cause of death in the United States. (Smoking is
the #1 cause.)
can help you feel better and enjoy life more, even if you think
you're too old or too out of shape.
exercise can improve some diseases and disabilities in older people
who already have them. It can improve mood and relieve depression,
on a regular, permanent basis can help prevent or delay heart
What You Can Do
making physical activity a part of your everyday life. Do things you
enjoy. Go for brisk walks. Ride a bike. Dance. And donít stop doing
physical tasks around the house and in the yard. Trim your hedges
without a power tool. Climb stairs. Rake leaves.
first step is to get at
least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe harder, on most or
all days of the week. Thatís called ďendurance activity,Ē because it
builds your stamina. That way you can keep doing the things you need
to do and the things you like to do. If you canít be active for 30
minutes all at once, get at least 10 minutes of endurance activity at
a time. If you choose to do 10-minute sessions, make sure that they
add up to a total of 30 minutes at the end of the day.
moderate level of sustained activity helps. One doctor describes the
right level of effort this way: If you can talk without any trouble at
all, your activity is probably too easy. If you canít talk at all,
itís too hard.
show that endurance activities help prevent or delay many diseases
that seem to come with age. In some cases, endurance activity can also
improve heart disease or its symptoms.
two is to keep using your
muscles. People lose 20 to 40 percent of their muscle ó and, along
with it, their strength ó as they age. Scientists have found that a
major reason people lose muscle is because they stop doing everyday
activities that use muscle power, not just because they grow older.
Lack of use lets muscles waste away.
have enough muscle, it can mean the difference between being able to
get up from a chair by yourself and having to wait for someone to help
you get up. Thatís true for younger adults as well as for people age
90 and older. Very small changes in muscle size, changes that you
canít even see, can make a big difference in your being able to live
and do things on your own.
combine activities ó for example, walking uphill and raking leaves
build both endurance and some of your muscles at the same time. Or you
can start an exercise program that makes sure you do the right types
of activities. (One good reason to start an exercise program is that
you will probably work muscles that you may have stopped using without
even realizing it. Another is that exercise programs are likely to
help you build up ó not just maintain ó your endurance and strength.)
your muscles in shape can help prevent another serious problem in
older people: falls that cause broken hips or other disabilities. When
the leg and hip muscles that support you are strong, youíre less
likely to fall. And using your muscles may make your bones stronger,
three is to do things to
help your balance. For example, stand on one foot, then the other,
without holding onto anything for support. Stand up from sitting in a
chair without using your hands or arms. Every now and then, walk
heel-to-toe (the toes of the foot in back should almost touch the heel
of the foot in front when you walk this way).
Finally, step four is to stretch. Stretching wonít build your
endurance or muscles, but it will help keep you limber.
Who Should Exercise?
anyone, at any age, can do some type of activity to improve his or her
health. Even if you have a chronic disease like heart disease or
diabetes you can still exercise. In fact, physical activity may help
your condition, but only if itís done during times when your condition
is under control. During flare-ups, exercise could be harmful. You
should talk to your doctor for guidance.
your doctor first if you are a man over 40 or a woman over 50 and you
plan to do vigorous activity (the kind that makes you breathe and
sweat hard) instead of moderate activity. Your doctor might be able to
give you a go-ahead over the phone, or he or she might ask you to come
in for a visit.
following are some things you can do to make sure you are exercising
Start slowly. Build up your activities and your level of effort
gradually. Doing too much, too soon, can hurt you, especially if you
have been inactive.
Avoid holding your breath while straining ó when using your
muscles, for example. If you have high blood pressure, pay special
attention to this tip. It may seem strange at first, but the rule is
to exhale during muscle exertion; inhale during relaxation. For
example, if you are lifting something breathe out on the lift; breathe
in on the release.
If you are on any medicines or have any conditions that change your
natural heart rate, donít use your pulse rate as a way of judging
how hard you should exercise. Beta blockers, a type of blood pressure
drug, are an example of this kind of medicine.
Unless your doctor has asked you to limit fluids, be sure to drink
plenty when you are doing endurance activities that make you
sweat. Many older people tend to be low on fluid much of the time,
even when not exercising.
When you bend forward, bend from the hips, not the waist. If you
keep your back straight, youíre probably bending correctly. If you let
your back ďhumpĒ anyplace, youíre probably bending from the waist,
which is the wrong way.
Make sure your muscles are warmed up before you stretch, or you
could hurt them. For example, you can do a little easy biking, or
walking and light arm pumping first.
None of the exercises should hurt
or make you feel really tired. You might feel some soreness, a
slight discomfort, or a bit weary, but you should not feel pain, in
fact, in many ways, physical activity and exercise will probably make
you feel better.
to Find Out More
Local gyms, universities, or hospitals
can help you find a teacher or program that works for you. You can
also check with local churches or synagogues, senior and civic
centers, parks, recreation associations, YMCAs, YWCAs, or even local
shopping malls for exercise, wellness, or walking programs.
Click here for tips on